Resources for Trauma Healing

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two authors who have written books about how they survived trauma. Their books are “true story memoirs” that beautifully illustrate the resilience of how to cope with trauma and survive. These are amazing stories written by amazing women. I encourage you to read their books to gain healing tips on how to resolve unresolved trauma.

Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child
by Meg Blaine Corrigan

Meg Blaine Corrigan has overcome longstanding emotional and physical pain. Her distress deepened after she was raped when she was in her 20s . . . and advised to just “forget” the experience. This story is an insightful, humorous, and courageous look at the life of one girl growing up in a profoundly volatile family — an alcoholic mother, codependent father, and over-conscientious sister — as they live in the shadow of the bottle.

 

Untangled: A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph
by Alexis Rose

This is the story of facing the truth and risking the consequences of breaking the silence of inter-generational ritualistic abuse and mind control programming. Through years of self-exploration, Alexis Rose learned to accept the effects of the trauma that echoes through her daily life as PTSD. Ultimately, this book is about resilience; hope for victims who have suffered trauma and for the people who support them.

 

If I Could Tell You How It Feels: My Life Journey with PTSD
by Alexis Rose, Art by Janet Rosauer

This book is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Alexis Rose takes us on a journey into the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. Rose writes with intimate vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

 

These books are “must reads” and I encourage you to hear how difficult, yet enlightening, true healing can feel.

Never Give Up!

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Finding an Answer to Cancer

This past  Saturday, August 19th I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Forest Lake Relay For Life event. My wife Rita and I have been Relay volunteers for 10 years since my diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer — twice! This is an event near and dear to my heart because my mother, many relatives, and friends have fought cancer battles — many have died and many more are still alive today. There’s still no cure(s) for the over 200 types of cancer. Jaelynn Parenteau (first photo) was our guest survivor speaker. She’s 17 years old and has been on a cancer journey for one year now. It breaks my heart that someone so young has to deal with cancer. She’s a super courageous survivor and I was honored to introduce her at the Survivor Celebration (second photo).

Our five teams raised $56,000 this year!

Typical me, I tried to find a survivor poem to share at the Survivor Celebration, but unable to find one, I wrote a poem instead. I’d like to share it with you and all the cancer survivors who are faced with cancer.

I Survived

Cancer came at me like a monster, and I shook with anger and fear.
I didn’t know where I was headed, but I knew my death was near.

I prayed to the Heavens to heal me, and the sky sent me a beam.
I knew I’d strive to walk again, and reach my cherished dream.

But the journey was difficult, and took away my breath.
I was taught how to live, but knew nothing of fighting death.

My body was weak, my mind a mess, my spirit took a dive.
You helped me confront my fears, and made me feel alive.

I’m proud to be called a survivor, and glad the worst is gone.
Healing is a miracle, like the sunset and early dawn.

Say a prayer for those who walk this day, arm-in-arm with cancer.
Show us how to fight for life, and help us find the answer.

Alexis Acker-Halbur
August 16, 2017
__________________________________________

If you are fighting a cancer battle, please remember that you have the strength and courage to fight this monster. It’s difficult to want to keep living after all the surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemo sessions, but your desire to live is stronger than cancer. My motto is “Never Give Up” and I believe this should be every cancer survivor’s motto as well.

Let me know what you think about my poem.

Alex Acker-Halbur

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Furthering the Fact: The Correlation Between Stress & Illness

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you may have come up with an opinion about my health status: Gee Alex, your DNA sucks! And though I’m very willing to agree, I just received new information that puts more light on the influence of stress on my illnesses versus my DNA.

I recently went through oncology genetic testing because of my two journeys with Stage IV colon cancer and my family history of cancer. Genetic analysts have found that in the Comprehensive Cancer Panel, I have NEGATIVE cancer genes! So, if I don’t have the genes how did I get cancer?

As I’ve said for years, the cause of my poor health: years of stress from unresolved trauma! This is great news for me personally, but as an advocate for resolving trauma, this news is exceptional. What it translates to is when you decide to resolve past trauma, you not only strengthen your immune system but you will also reduce your risks of inflammation and, possibly, even cancer.

As I’ve said a million times, stress can kill, but now you can take control of your life by dealing with, and coping from, trauma. You can improve your health starting today!

I’m going to celebrate my “negative” news today!!! What news have you received that you’d like to celebrate today.

Here are some suggestions on how to celebrate:

  1. Have a healthy dinner at your favorite restaurant.
  2. Do a “Happy” dance in your kitchen.
  3. Hug your spouse.
  4. Go for a quiet walk in the park.
  5. Say a prayer of “thanks.”
  6. Never Give Up!!!
  7. Never Give Up!!!
  8. Never Give Up!!!

Color your world today!

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I’m in a Funk!

Hi Never Give Up Institute Blog Readers:

I so apologize for not updating my blog site for a while. I’ve been in a funk lately — yes, it happens to all of us. I’ve started a new novel and I’m thrilled to be back in the land of fiction. I’m resorting to fiction because, frankly, reality is too scary for me. Every morning I search the newspaper headlines for some hope that our world isn’t going down the drain. But, alas, the news is all about what we can’t do rather then what we can do.

I attended the Women’s March in January in St. Paul, MN. I was there to add my presence to the six million people (my alternate fact) who feel the funk like I do. It was an amazing day! We were surrounded by a peaceful recognition that our country is seriously in trouble. And, our MN legislators know it, too. I found several hours of solidarity with people who believe in hope and not fear. If we want something to change we often must fight for it. I’m a funk fighter.

My calendar today has the quote: “There is so much that [the Divine Spirit] wants to show you, but your fear gets in the way. Give it to [her], right here, right now.” And this is what I’m going to do right here, right now. I understand now that my funk is really fear and I need to find a sense of hope. I’m glad to have my calendar to help me understand my feelings. So here I go . . .

I LOVE my country! I LOVE my freedom! I LOVE my friends and family! I LOVE my life! I LOVE my wife and dog!!! And, I LOVE the Divine Spirit for protecting me from fear!

Okay, I feel so much better. I hope you do, too.

NEVER GIVE UP LOVE & HOPE!!!

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Building Resilience Against Trauma

I recentlcrime-scene-30112_1280y attended a conference on “Building Resilience.” It was an awesome day as I gained new insight into how we survive trauma. Those in attendance were social workers, Minnesota Department of Health crisis staff, psychologists, non-profits dealing with the homeless and sex trafficking victims, women’s group facilitator, medical professionals, and wellness advocates like me. It was a delightful day of meeting new people and learning new information.

I’m excited  to learn that the information I present in my blogs is both timely and accurate. Some of the new insights I learned are amazing as we live with acute trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here are some of the things I know or learned:

  1. An estimated two-thirds of American adults have experienced one or more potentially traumatic exposures in their lifetime.
  2. Stemming from events or circumstances experienced as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening, trauma can result in significantly diminished mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being; leading to lost productivity, function and social participation.-George Family Foundation Catalyst Initiative
  3. Trauma doesn’t define who we are.
  4. The most intimate relationship is between you and the Divine.
  5. The Divine isn’t outside of us — the Divine is within us.
  6. When we internalize our own inner Divine we can connect and extend the Divine to others — this is the power of love.
  7. Creating circles of people dispenses hierarchy.
  8. You can meditate with your eyes open. This technique is especially great for those of us who have experienced trauma and are afraid to close our eyes. It’s okay — you can still meditate — with your eyes open!
  9. We can’t connect with others if we’re not connected to ourselves first.
  10. Margaret Mitchell said, “Every problem has two handles. You can grab it by the handle of fear or the handle of hope.”
  11. Depression is the #1 cause of disability in the U.S.
  12. Sleep is the missing link in recovering from depression.
  13. The first arrow causes us physical pain, which we can’t ignore. The second arrow is the mental pain and suffering we add on top of the physical pain. -Buddhist Teaching
  14. The first thought you have in the morning is what you worship.

Trauma impacts a large toll on us and those around us — and society as a whole. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, “In 2014 (latest available data), there were 42,773 reported suicide deaths.” The inability to copy with trauma and increased depression affect us all. Isn’t it time we eliminate the trauma in our homes and society, and the resulting depression and illness, and find ways to connect with trauma survivors to build a better quality of Life?

I think so! And I’ll never give up!

 

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What Does Depression Feel Like? Here’s Your Answer

Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year.* woman-1006100_1280

About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lives. Since I’m one of those eight, I’m asked a lot about what depression really feels like. The following description gives you an idea how deep and hopeless depression is like:

My eyes open slowly adjusting to the dull throb of morning. I stare at the white, speckled ceiling trying to convince myself to move, but I can’t.

My body feels like 600 pounds ground into the mattress — too heavy to climb out, too deep to surface.

It’s another morning, and another bout of depression.

I want to cry, but I can’t. I’m past the point of tears. I’m terrified and tumbling out-of-control into the nothingness of hopelessness. All I can feel is dread and pain.

My bones feel as if they are being twisted and pulled apart. My fingers are swollen like little breakfast sausages. The ache in my lower back is something akin to corporal punishment.

The nerves in my head drum to a deafening rock and roll beat.

My bed has gone from being my refuge to a torture chamber.

I slowly sit up and cringe at the onslaught of memories.

I have nothing to get up for.

I have nothing to look forward to.

I have nothing to get excited about.

I have nothing but nothing.

I open the blinds and stare out at the day. The sun is shining, the air is fresh with Spring, and the neighbors are busy going to work. I shut the blinds?

Why?

Why me?

Why must I feel this way?

Why can’t I be happy?

Why can’t I look forward to a brand new day?

Why must I be depressed?

Again?

Why?

STOP!

When I feel this way it’s time for me to talk to someone I trust — a friend, a sister, a therapist, or a person of faith. Depression is a disease and not an issue of lacking willpower. It can be paralyzing and disabling and can turn successful people into failures.

Antidepressants can take away the sharp edge of depression, but they aren’t cures for this mental illness. They aren’t “happy pills” that suddenly transform me from a dark brooding creature into a slapstick comedian.

Depression is serious, so take it seriously. This world needs a lot more slapstick comedians than brooding creatures.

* Statistics from Mental Health America

Never give up . . . ever!

Alex Acker-Halbur

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